Pompey vs Manchester United Preview

Last updated : 06 April 2007 By Jim Bonner
This fixture has had some memorable moments during our relatively short stay in the Premiership. Fond memories of Steve Stone celebrating like a madman and Yakubu's cool finish are mirrored by the not-so-fond memories of Cristiano Ronaldo hammering in one from 30 yards. Will this game be remembered in the same fashion that the first two were or will it be forgettable as United continue their march to the title?

The fortunes of both clubs have changed a lot since the last time Pompey met United at Fratton Park. Pompey now reside in the top 10 of the Premiership whilst United are looking good to regain the trophy after three seasons without it.

We haven't been in the best form this year but we can take heart from the fact that United are just coming back from a very difficult (and nasty) trip to Rome and will be sporting a makeshift defence with Nemanja Vidic and Gary Neville definitely out and Patrice Evra is also struggling. We should be able to take advantage of such a weakened defence at home, no matter who the opposition are.

Fergie is likely to play his strongest team despite Champions League commitments so expect to see the likes of Scholes, Giggs, Ronaldo and Rooney turn out although with United having a recent striker crisis it looks like Alan Smith; who famously missed from one yard out two seasons ago, may be given a starting berth.

I'd expect Pompey to be unchanged from the 1-1 draw with Fulham although Toddy; who has just been offered a new one year contract, could be handed a start in place of Kanu who has been ineffective recently. It's been hinted that Harry might go with one up front, but surely we won't do that at home?

The quality of United's players needs no explanation but if we can keep Rooney and Ronaldo quiet then we have more than a fair chance tomorrow. With no pressure of a relegation battle on the players' minds and the likelihood of Europe gone, this is a chance to have our say in the title race whilst further establishing ourselves as a Premiership force.

The Red Devils have already beaten us twice this season in league and cup matches at Old Trafford but it's less likely that a referee will give a dubious penalty if Rooney goes down in the box easily at Fratton Park and we will have our best defence playing too unlike the reverse league fixture. I'm cautiously confident that we can get a result tomorrow.

United have much improved since the days of Stone and Unsworth, but then, so have we.

Premiership Past: Pompey vs Manchester United

03/04: Pompey 1 Manchester United 0

Pompey pulled off a memorable result against the reigning Champions as Steve Stone put the ball in the United net to send Fratton Park into raptures. Pompey survived a late penalty claim after Matt Taylor looked to have handled in the box but we were worth our victory as we continued our march to safety and ended the Red Devils' hopes of retaining the title.

04/05: Pompey 2 Manchester United 0

United rolled into Portsmouth in arrogant mood once again having just ended Arsenal's famous unbeaten run but then left Fratton Park with their tails firmly between their legs as they were beaten by Pompey for the second time in 6 months.

Rio Ferdinand threw a hissy fit and booted the ball over the Milton End after Heinze fouled Ricardo Fuller in the area. David Unsworth made no mistake in burying the resulting spot kick and then Yakubu cooly slotted past Roy Caroll to make the game safe for Pompey late on as Fergie's men blew a whole host of chances in the first half.

05/06: Pompey 1 Manchester United 3

This game was over before half time as United ran rampant. Ruud van Nistelrooy nudged in Giggs' shot off the crossbar to give them an early lead then Ronaldo scored a thunderbolt and then another goal to kill the game. Pompey made a fight of it in the second half and pulled a deserved goal back through Matt Taylor but it was too little, too late as the slide to the Championship continued.

Pundit Watch

Lawro: Away Win (0-2)
Sky Sports: Away Win (1-2)
Matt Le Tissier: Draw (1-1)
Soccernet: Away Win